What You Need to Know About Shipping a Car to China

hf Moving to China can be a very daunting move, even for those who may enjoy traveling around the world on frequent trips. This is a very busy country with more than 1 billion residents and if you are used to small cities and low populations, quiet streets and simple traffic, you need to prepare yourself for a very busy life from this point on.

While you will find numerous expats in China and will easily be able to have a vibrant social life with other English speaking people, you need to be able to speak the local language with ease to find your way around, shop or dine out and socialize with those who are from China.

The cost of living in China can be high in some areas, but in general, you will find home rental rates and the basic cost of living to be lower than most U.S. cities. If you plan to buy an apartment however, you may find that purchase rates can be a little high.

Public Transportation

There are many ways to travel throughout China. Travel by rail is the most common way to get around but you can also find buses, electric bicycles and tramways to help navigate the country and the various cities as well as rural towns that are situated outside of the large cities. 

The cost of buying a motor vehicle in China is comparable to sales prices in the United States for cars such as Toyota or Volkswagens and other small vehicles. Some people prefer having a car shipped to China, especially those who own new model vehicles that they purchase before their move.

Shipping a Car


There are some important steps that must be taken to import a car to China. As an expat, you must follow regulations set for customs approval or your car will not be allowed entry into the country. First, you will need to consult with a company that ships cars overseas to China. A reliable international car shipper will be able to provide rates for shipping and can let you know whether your car will be acceptable for import.

You also need to make sure you have the proper paperwork for customs. This many include:

  • Passport and Chinese residency card
  • Cargo declaration (bill of lading)
  • Customs office application
  • Business license & customs certificate
  • Vehicle check by the Environmental Bureau
  • Import permit 
  • Original purchase invoice for valuation


Is Your Car Environmentally Prepared for Use in China?

All cars that are imported to China must be cleared by the Ministry of Environmental Protection in China before it will be allowed to enter the country. You can contact them via their website for further information on specific regulations for motor vehicles.


Modes of Transport

When you ship to China from the United States, you will have a couple options on getting your car across the ocean.


Roll/On Roll/Off (RORO) This is a very common way to have a car shipped whether you are shipping on land or by sea. The car will be secured along with other vehicles and wheeled property on board the deck of a RORO ship. It can take a few weeks for delivery from the U.S. to China on a RORO ship and you will need to ensure that your transporter/shipper offers valid insurance coverage during shipment.


Container– Shipping a car inside a secure container is the preferred way to ship a car overseas. A container prevents exposure to sea water/salt water and other elements during shipment. You can also pack a container with personal items that you may need to ship at the same time. Be sure to include a detailed packing list for customs and make sure your car and other property is fully covered by insurance before shipment.


Before scheduling a vehicle shipment to China, it is important to reach out for information from the Embassy of China so you will know that your car will be an acceptable form of transit in the country. In most cases, older cars are not permitted for import and your car should be within one year of the date of manufacture.

Things to Avoid When Importing a Car to China

 It is important to take the proper legal steps to import a car to China. You may want to check the following to ensure you do not make any common mistakes that can prevent your car from being approved by customs.

  • Failing to have the car clean inside and out can cause customs to deny the car shipment. Before shipping, be sure everything is clean, even underneath the car and remove all personal belongings and loose items from the interior.
  • Arriving to customs without the proper paperwork will cause the car to be denied. Be sure you know what paperwork is required and take the time to ensure you have everything filled out and ready for customs ahead of time.
  • Failing to check insurance coverage ahead of time. All shipping/auto transport companies are required to carry valid insurance for every car they move. It is the consumer’s responsibility to verify that the coverage is valid before the car is chipper.jgd
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